• 2012 - 2015 Lotus Exige S

    Lotus has added an auto transmission to the Exige's option list, and it's quicker than the manual.
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Ladies and gentlemen, the wait is over! After months of speculation, Lotus has finally unveiled the new Exige S. This "ultimate lightweight high performance sportscar" comes bearing a new look inside and out, as well as a brand new engine that adds over 100 HP to the car’s output.

The look of the 2012 Lotus Exige S still claims it as an Exige, but the add-ons provided smooth out the sports car’s look, while still adding a certain degree of aggression to the design. The Exige S now carries a new front splitter that reveals a cleaner line across the front of the car and a smaller rear spoiler, both of which still improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics.

As for power, the Exige S is now working with a mid-mounted, transverse 3.5 liter DOHC V6 VVI-i engine that delivers a total of 345 HP, a far cry from the previously used 257 HP 1.8L Toyota supercharged I4. The reason for this massive upgrade is clear when the car’s weight gets introduced into the equation. The previous model claimed 2,077 lbs, while the new Exige S plumps up at 2,380 lbs. Once the added weight gets brought in, the Exige S’ 0-60 mph time is still better, coming in at 3.8 seconds (from a previous time of 4.0 seconds) and its top speed hikes up to 170 mph (up from a previous 145 mph).

Lotus will also be offering a Lotus DPM (Dynamic Performance Management) switch that allows the driver to switch between three driving modes: Touring, Sport, and DPM off. An optional Race Pack also gets thrown in to add a fourth driving mode (Race) to the mix, for the ultimate Lotus Exige S experience.

Updated 10/24/2014: Lotus just announced that the Exige S will alsobe offered with an automatic transmission. The new option will add about $3k to the car’s final list, but it’s a pretty nice addition if you’re not too anxious about driving with a stick. Details after the jump.

Hit the jump to read more about the new Lotus Exige S.

  • 2012 - 2015 Lotus Exige S
  • Year:
    2012- 2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
  • Displacement:
    3.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4.8 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    172 mph
  • Price:
    77000 (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Update History

UPDATE 12/08/11: After having to yank the Exige and Elise from the US market due to airbag restrictions, Lotus is throwing the US market a bone by bringing the new Exige S over to our side of the pond as a track-only car. This race version will feature a full roll cage, racing seats and harness, and an electrical cut-off switch, in addition to all of the features found on the road car. Pricing will start between $85,000–$90,000. (duPont Registry)

UPDATE 07/13/2012: Lotus has unveiled three new videos for their brand new Exige S. In two of them, the car is being tested at the Nurburgring and at the Hethel Track at Lotus HQ, while the third video shows Donato Coco, Lotus Director of Design, as he explains the design and styling of the new Lotus Exige S, and Matt Becker, Chief Engineer of Vehicle Dynamics, as he talks through some of the fundamental changes that have been made to the Exige S.

First Video of the Exige S Undisguised


2012 - 2015 Lotus Exige S High Resolution Exterior
- image 416674
The 2012 Lotus Exige has a clean and aggressive design that can tear through the streets and look magnificent doing it.

The 2012 Lotus Exige S’ new design brings forth a cleaner and smoother look, eliminating the choppiness from its predecessor’s overall design. That being said, it is being described as more aggressive, giving off an aura of extreme sportiness. This mixture provides a perfect combination for what the Exige S is all about.

So, how did they get there? For starters, the 2012 Exige S is about 10 inches longer and two inches wider than the previous model, built on a Lotus designed lightweight structure of epoxy bonded
aluminum alloy extrusions with integral steel seat-belt support structure and a lightweight steel rear subframe. However, the real improvement comes at the front of the vehicle. The Exige S now bears a new front splitter that eliminates the broken lines found on the previous model, as does the lone vent sweeping across the model’s hood. The headlights have also been combined into one piece, showing off two triangular lights as opposed to the four oblong lights from the previous model. The exaggerated roof scoop from last year also gets its walking papers for a continuation of the clean design. Last, but not least, the 2012 Lotus Exige S also gets a new, smaller rear spoiler that sinks in a little deeper to the rear of the Exige, aiding in the car’s aerodynamics.

Wheelbase 2370 mm
Track – front 1453 mm
Track – rear 1499 mm
Overall length 4052 mm
Overall width (door mirrors excluded) 1802 mm
Overall height – midladen (as per unladen with 2x 75 kg occupants) 1153 mm
Overhang – front (including splitter) 880 mm
Overhang – rear 802 mm
Ramp Angle – front 7.4 degrees
Ramp Angle – rear 16.4 degrees
Ground clearance – midladen (as per unladen with 2x 75 kg occupants) 130 mm (front); 135 mm (rear)
Target Vehicle mass – kerb 1,080 kg/2380 lbs
Drag Coefficient 0.433


2012 - 2015 Lotus Exige S Exterior
- image 427082

The interior for the 2012 Lotus Exige S doesn’t get a whole lot of changes, but it does get two package options: Premium and Premium Sport. The Premium Pack is said to add comfort and style, while the Premium Sport option focuses on creating an internal space optimized for ultimate driver involvement.

Premium Pack

  • Choice of leather color: Ebony Black, Ivory White, Venom Red, Cognac Brown, Imperial Blue, Cocoa Brown, Ash Grey
  • Leather center console
  • Fully covered foot well area (carpet + leather)
  • Sport/Premium steering wheel in full black leather
    leather sills
  • Door panels in leather
  • Metal bezel around gear and handbrake gaiter
  • Sport/Premium seats in full leather
  • Full sound insulating material
  • Dark trinket tray
  • Face-level air vents covered in leather

Premium Pack Sport SuedeTex

  • Ebony Black/Slate Grey SuedeTex interior combination,
    SuedeTex center console
  • Black floor mats
  • Sport/Premium steering wheel with dark grey leather
  • Dark grey binnacle top
  • Door panels in carbon effect leather
  • Metal bezel around gear and handbrake gaiter
  • Sport/Premium seats with carbon effect leather inserts
  • Sound insulating material
2012 - 2015 Lotus Exige S Exterior
- image 416677

Carbon Pack (Premium Pack required)

  • Carbon center console
  • Carbon sill covers
  • Carbon air conditioning controls
  • Carbon air conditioning vents
  • Carbon binnacle surround and binnacle top
  • Carbon Dynamic Performance Management (DPM) switch panel

Race Pack

  • 4 mode Lotus DPM system including launch control
  • Exhaust bypass valve override switch
  • Optimized suspension to suit the Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo tyre characteristics

Convenience Pack

  • Trinket tray divider
  • USB connection
  • cup holder

The Exige S will also be equipped with a high performance bespoke tire package with Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tires (front 205/45 R17, rear 265/45 R18) as standard, matched up with 17- or 18-inch lightweight alloy wheels.

When talking about the new Exige S, Group Lotus Chief Executive Officer Dany Bahar said: "Anyone who has ever driven an Exige will tell you that it’s not for the faint-hearted. The new Exige S skips a few rungs on the ladder to give the driver the ultimate Lotus experience. Quite simply you can’t get more Lotus than the Exige S."


2012 - 2015 Lotus Exige S Exterior
- image 416678

The biggest change for the new Lotus Exige S is the new mid-mounted, transverse 3.5 liter DOHC V6 VVI-i engine mated to an EA60 6 speed transverse Sports Ratios manual gearbox with open differential. This new engine delivers a total of 345 HP, which should translate into better performance times, except the Exige has also gained some weight during its refresher. The previous model claimed 2,077 lbs, while the new Exige S plumps up at 2,380 lbs. These modifications allow the Lotus Exige S to deliver a 0-60 mph sprint time of 3.8 seconds (from a previous time of 4.0 seconds) and its top speed hikes up to 170 mph (up from a previous 145 mph). That being said, these figures have yet to be witness tested so Lotus will be officially announcing them when that takes place.

Another big change for the Exige S is the Lotus DPM (Dynamic Performance Management) switch. This switch allows the driver to alternate between three driving modes: Touring, Sport, and DPM off. The company will also be offering an additional Race Pack option that provides a fourth driving mode with the maximum possible traction out of corners, an optimized track suspension setting, and Launch Control.

Dynamic Performance Management (DPM)

  • Corner Brake Control (CBC)
  • Drag Torque Control (DTC)
  • Electronic Differential Lock (EDL)
  • Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)*
  • Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA)*
  • Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD)*
  • Understeer Recognition

All apart from * can be completely switched off.

Stopping power comes from a Servo-assisted, track tuned 4-channel Antilock Braking System (ABS) with AP-Racing four-piston calipers (front and rear), along with ventilated and cross drilled cast-iron discs, 350 mm front and 332 mm rear.

New Automatic Transmission for 2015

The Series 3 Exige S remained untouched until 2014, and that’s not going to change very soon considering Lotus’ financial distress. However the Brits have finally found the resources to introduce an automatic transmission for buyers who aren’t keen on having a shift stick in their sports car. Besides eliminating the clutch pedal, the new autobox also brings slightly quicker acceleration times while still providing the driver with the excitement that "reflects the Lotus DNA of pure driving experience."

Lotus claims the new transmission comes with smooth and intuitive gear shifts, as well as specifically calibrated characteristics for when the Exige S is being driven in either Sport or Race mode. Due to optimized gear selection and response, the Exige S Automatic is as fast as the manual version, and even quicker in certain circumstances. During testing, the automatic sports car was as fast as its manual counterpart around Lotus’ Hethel test track, while achieving the 0-to-62 mph sprint a tenth of a second quicker — that’s 3.9 seconds and an important benchmark for the Exige range.

The new automatic transmission is offered as an option to the Exige S and Exige S Roadster. In European markets, the auto transmission will be a €2,185 option, which is about $2,760 as of 10/24/2014. In the UK, the option will run £2,000 ($3,217). The auto transmission should be ready for purchase in January 2015.


2012 - 2015 Lotus Exige S Exterior
- image 427089

The new Lotus Exige S will not be available in all markets, so check with local dealers to see if one is available in the area. Prices will be announced at a later date and first deliveries will be made by the end of the year.


2012 - 2015 Lotus Exige S Exterior
- image 427083

With all of the improvements the new Lotus Exige S has to offer, the vehicle has significantly raised the standards of sports cars on the market. Now the car can easily compete with the likes of the Porsche Cayman R. The Cayman R is powered by a tuned-up 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine that delivers an impressive 330 HP and is capable of hitting a top speed of 175 mph.

Then there is also the Nissan 370Z Coupe with its 332 HP 3.7 liter V6 engine. At first glance, both of these models share second place at the hands of the new Lotus Exige S, but we’ll have to wait until we get our hands on it to know for sure.

2012 - 2015 Lotus Exige S Exterior
- image 416590
  • Leave it
    • Won’t be available worldwide
    • Figures have yet to be made official
Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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